This article may contain compensated links. See our full disclosure here
10 essential tips from a solo traveler with over a decade of experience wandering off the beaten path in Italy and beyond.
Are you dreaming about a solo adventure in Italy? With so many incredible places to explore, dishes to try, and sights to see, Italy is a fantastic destination for anyone new to solo travel. Besides having so much to see and do, Italy also offers the perfect stepping stones for adjusting from a total solo travel newbie to advanced solo traveler.
In fact, on my very first trip to Italy I was so scared of getting lost that I panicked when we had free time to explore and glued myself to other people in the travel group. Gradually I grew more comfortable and learned a lot of lessons that added up to my most recent solo trip which was full of adventure–taking an overnight ferry from Italy to Albania!
As the shy girl who grew up in a town too small to even have a traffic light, I never could’ve imagined that I would go on to author The ULTIMATE Guide for the Solo Woman in Italy, the most comprehensive e-book to learn the skills, strategies, and tools you need to finally take the leap and travel solo in Italy. But life has a funny way of surprising us! I’m beyond grateful for the life changing experiences that solo travel gave me and I want to help others get past their roadblocks and have incredible solo travel experiences, too.
Whether you want to stay in one, walkable city for a simple first-time solo trip or take multiple trains and buses to reach far-flung corners of Italy, there are some important tips that will help you get the most out of your solo adventure in Italy!
10 Tips for Solo Travel in Italy Done Right
1. Dream your most beautiful dream
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling obligated to plan your trip entirely around the most famous sights in Italy. Almost anywhere you go in Italy is amazing. Take time to journal about what your intention for this solo adventure is and choose destinations that support your goals.
For example, if you’ve been through a lot in the past year and want to find yourself again, a slower paced, lesser-known destination where you’ll feel like you’re making your own unexpected discoveries might better support that goal than a whirlwind trip to the top cities. Or it might be the opposite for you! Just take the time to decide for yourself.
2. Choose accommodations that support your goals for the trip
Hostels are great for meeting international friends. Now that most hostels offer private rooms as well, you can still enjoy privacy and comfort while being able to easily meet fellow travelers.
If you’re aiming to check off some bucket list sights, staying in a hotel in the city with 24 hour front desk service is a good option for solo female travelers.
However, my personal favorite for meeting my goal of immersing myself in the culture is staying in an agriturismo or masseria (farm stays). For these, it’s best if you have a rental car. Sometimes the owners will offer to pick you up from a nearby train station, but you need to be ok with not being able to go places easily on your own. That being said, many farm stays offer a few activities on site, such as wine tastings or cooking classes.
For a happy medium between being in the middle of the city or the middle of nowhere, you can find lots of unique and charming, family-run B&Bs in small villages. This option allows you to explore without so much overwhelm about getting lost and be able to find things to do right outside your door.
3. Reframe your thoughts to combat loneliness
The question I get asked most about traveling solo is, “Don’t you get lonely?” And here’s the truth about it. Your body’s natural response to all this new stimuli of being alone in a foreign country is to protect itself from this unknown state by being around people who comfort you – so your body generates this feeling of being homesick and lonely.
Once you recognize that what you’re feeling is just a chemical response, it can help you separate yourself from it and redirect your thoughts.
Inside my solo travel e-book, you can find tips on how to “flip the script” and reframe the thoughts you might start having as part of this downward spiral of loneliness you can get yourself into.
For example, if you’re thinking “I can’t enjoy any of this, I’m just lonely” – Instead of focusing on how lonely you feel, find something you can get excited about.
*Reframe* – “I’m excited about that hike tomorrow, I’m going to reach that peak and buy myself a glass of wine to celebrate!”
Remind yourself at one point you were back home feeling SO excited to be there, then find something to focus on that makes you feel happy and excited. Most of all, know that the loneliness fades. The more you travel solo, the less loneliness is part of it.
4. If you’re on a budget, get creative and strategic
Plan ahead which meals you’ll eat out each day and which meals you’ll eat cheap. If you wait until you’re hungry to decide what to eat, you’ll inevitably opt for the more exciting, cozy, and costly option of a restaurant. Take advantage of apericena deals or enjoy the bakeries where you can fill up on delicious and affordable focaccia or pizza slices. Get lots more tips about saving money without missing out in my 30-Minute Budget Builder!
5. Solo travel safety is all about being prepared and trusting your intuition
It’s easy for safety issues to get overblown, especially if you’re looking for tips in online forums. What’s most important is that you trust your intuition and use the same common sense as you would traveling in your home country. Take care of basic things such as having a working phone and WiFi, having local taxi numbers written down, and having a Whatsapp group with close friends and family where you can share your live location. I’ve made safety easy for solo travelers by including a Safety Checklist, Accommodation Safety Checklist, and Dating Safety Checklist in my e-book!
6. Fall in love with dining alone
It may feel strange and a bit awkward at first, but no one else in the restaurant is even thinking about it. Celebrate the fact that your own two feet brought you here to this beautiful moment. Order more food than you can eat and indulge in the pleasure of each bite without the distraction of conversation. Relish being the mysterious woman in the corner with a story!
7. Meet the locals
One of my favorite and easiest ways to meet locals is to check Meetup.com or Facebook Events for language exchange groups. You’ll likely find Italians who want to practice English and expats who want to practice Italian. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet locals and practice Italian in a space where you feel more comfortable making mistakes.
8. Connect with locals by learning compliments or a phrase in local dialect!
If making friends with locals is part of your Italian dream, don’t let learning the language overwhelm you. Every bit of Italian you know helps tremendously, but you don’t necessarily have to study the language to be able to connect with locals. Learn a couple of nice compliments in Italian to make locals more open to you.
My favorite way to grab their attention and stand out from other tourists is to learn a phrase in local dialect and use Italian colloquialisms. Throw some hand gestures in there and you’ll really pique their curiosity!
9. When it comes to activities and experiences, think bigger!
The activities most people want to book in Italy are wine tastings, cooking classes, and guided tours in museums. And sure, those are staple experiences. But Italy offers so much more that most people wouldn’t even know to ask for!
How about a cooking class with a live opera performance, afternoon tea in a private palazzo hundreds of years old where descendants of a noble family still live, or helping in an archeological dig outside of Rome? Or one of my top favorites–sip Prosecco on a private boat with my friend Luigi as you eagerly wait for a volcano in the Aeolian Islands to erupt!
Start by making a list of all your passions, hobbies and interests–this is YOUR trip, might as well dive right into the things that totally light you up. Then actually google the items on your list combined with the word “Italy” and see what comes up.
For example, I love horseback riding so I might search “horse experiences in Italy” and browse the results for an activity I might want to book for a special day during my solo trip. I’d probably be delighted to discover that I can book an experience immersed with butteri, Tuscany’s cowboys (yes, that’s a thing!). Get in touch with me for help coming up with some ideas for unique experiences that fit your interests and style!
10. Write everything down!
Seriously, the details of your experiences will fade so quickly. Give yourself the gift of being able to relive the experience by journaling everyday. Quick little sketches (even if they’re “bad”) bring the moment back to life even more. I like to jot down every dish I eat and the new flavors and combinations to inspire me in the kitchen when I’m back home. Pro Tip: Getting caught up on journaling is a great thing to do to make dining alone to feel less awkward!
Take these 10 tips to heart and you’ll be on the road to a meaningful solo travel adventure in Italy! For more guidance and expert tips to help you prepare for taking the leap, check out The ULTIMATE Guide for the Solo Woman in Italy.